Episode 84 :: Patricia St. Onge: Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Peoples Coming Together for OneEarth Living


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Resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota catapulted Indigenous peoples into major news stories. The prayerful, nonviolent actions of the Standing Rock Sioux and thousands who stood with them, First Peoples and others, showed the power of spiritual activism in the face of powerful corporations intent on domination. Our guest on this podcast, Patricia St. Onge, a Haudenosaune and Quebecoise, went to North Dakota and has interpreted the actions there in countless conversations. She is a consultant and coach, with Seven Generations Consulting, a business she and her partner, Wilson Riles, founded. It’s a great treat for us to bring to the Common Good audience this conversation with her.

Patricia is an expert on how cultural diversity differs greatly from cultural appropriation, a difference she explains in this podcast. She also explained it to Lee after he invited her to write the “Foreword” to his book, From Egos to Eden. As a result the chapter on Indigenous peoples (chapter 7) was entirely rewritten.

All of Patricia’s consulting work is culturally based. It’s deeply rooted in the concept of Seven Generations. “We honor the generations who have come before us, are mindful of those yet to come, and recognize that the impact of the decisions we’re making now will last for seven generations.”

Patricia has worked to support progressive social justice movements for all of her adult life. She’s worked as Executive and Interim Director of more than a dozen non-profits. She is a Board member at the Highlander Research and Education Center.

Patricia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Southern NH University (1981) and a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion (1995). She is lead author of Embracing Cultural Competency: A Roadmap for Nonprofit Capacity Builders, published by Fieldstone Alliance (2009). She has written chapters in Coming Back to Life, Revised Edition (2015) by Joanna Macy, The Handbook of Community Practice, Second Edition edited by Marie O. Weil, University of North Carolina at Durham (2012), and Collective Wisdom, edited by Donald Gerard (2009). Her article, “Rituals That Heal” was published in Yes! Magazine, (Summer 2015)

Patricia is a core faculty member (community ministry and social transformation) at the Chaplaincy Institute for Interfaith Studies in Berkeley, CA, adjunct faculty at Mills College in Oakland, CA, and Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA. She’s also a member of Idle No More and belongs to a circle of indigenous grandmothers. Between them, she and her life partner Wilson Riles, have ten grown children and six grandchildren. She is part of a growing community called Nafsi ya Jamii (The Soul Community), an urban farm and retreat center in East Oakland, CA.

Lee got to know Patricia through his daughter, Lauren, the Dean at the Chaplaincy Institute. He mentioned to her that he really wanted a woman from one of the First Nations to write a “Foreword” to the book he was working on. She immediately recommended Patricia St. Onge. Lee says: “The story that unfolded from there has changed me. And we share it with you in our conversation here. So just be a fly on the wall and you’ll hear how Patricia helped me, a European, empire-trained older male, acquire a lot more consciousness about how to be in significant relationship with Indigenous people.”


Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures) by Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres

YouTube.com: John A. Powell, Center for a Fair and Inclusive Society, UC, Berkley

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Co-host Lee Van Ham’s new book, From Egos to Eden: Our Heroic Journey to Keep Earth Livable, is now available online at Powells, Barnes and Nobles, and other stores in addition to Amazon.For a review of the book click on “Review.”

You can also listen to him talk about the book on an earlier podcast, Episode 77 :: Lee Van Ham: Our Heroic Journey to Keep Earth Livable
OF RELATED INTEREST: Co-Host Jerry Iversen’s Simple Living Works! Website & Podcasts

On a current Simple Living Works! Podcast, we talk with activist and blogger Peter Sawtell of Eco-Justice Ministries about maintaining morale under regressive state and federal governments.

Simple Living Works! Blog and Podcast

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